Advanced Jira Administration: Getting into the Scheme of Things

A practical example for a development project

Let’s say you create specific Jira issue types because you want to collect a different data set for each type, and because want the different issue types to use different workflows. So what do you do next? How do you tell Jira what information to collect for each issue type? Should you create screens or a field configuration scheme first? What’s the difference between an issue type scheme and an issue type screen scheme? How do you associate an issue type with a workflow?

Understanding Jira schemes and how they interact with each other is one of the most important, and most challenging parts of Jira administration. My new Advanced Jira Administration course will help you understand:

  • The nine different Jira schemes and what each one does
  • Where to find the schemes used by a given project
  • The hierarchal relationship between screen schemes and issue type screen schemes
  • The correct order for creating screens, screen schemes and issue type screen schemes
  • How to remove a screen, screen scheme or issue type screen scheme
  • How to share schemes across multiple projects
  • When and how to create custom schemes
  • And much more
The course contains challenges, quizzes, downloadable handouts, and personal stories.

In this course, we’ll discuss real-life Jira scheme examples, areas where it’s easy to go wrong, and best practices for creating and managing schemes. The course includes clear explanations, demonstrations, and challenges (with solutions!) to try in your Jira application.

Once you understand Jira schemes you’ll have the keys to unlock Jira efficiency and scaleability.

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Not a LinkedIn Learning member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial! Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription!

New Course – Jira: Advanced Administration

Jira: Advanced Administration with Rachel Wright
Take “Jira: Advanced Administration” with Rachel Wright

Life is short. Jira is complex. There simply isn’t time to make all of the mistakes and learn everything you need to know by trial and error. I’ve compiled over eight years of lessons learned in my Jira Basic and Advanced Administration courses. The advanced course is available now on LinkedIn! It will help you navigate the complexities of Jira and find the right balance between user support and application functionality. Take this course to correctly configure your application and make sure it stays clean, manageable, and flexible.

Course Structure

The Jira: Advanced Administration course picks up where the Jira: Basic Administration course leaves off. The advanced course is designed to help you understand and internalize Jira concepts by including:

  • Real world examples of what to do, and what not to do taken from my personal experience
  • Explanations of the latest Jira jargon (ie. Company-managed projects vs team-managed projects)
  • Tips and best practices
  • Demonstrations
  • Challenges that you can try in your own Jira application
  • Quizzes to ensure understanding and build your confidence
  • Handouts
  • And more

While the examples used in the course are from Jira Software, the lessons can also be applied to Jira Service Management and Jira Work Management projects. All deployment types (Cloud, Server, and Data Center) are included.

Course Content

The course takes a deep dive into topics such as configuring global permissions, understanding scheme hierarchy, creating custom schemes and custom workflows, managing project settings, working with groups and roles, and controlling access to information.  

Your job as a Jira administrator is to give your teams the functionality they need and ensure the long term health of your Jira application. We’ll discuss when and how to make customizations and how to choose from the thousands of available Jira apps and extensions.

Finally, we’ll also look at advanced Jira features such as creating issues from email and issue collectors, importing data into your Jira instance, and streamlining process with automation.

Knowing the best way to solve a problem and how it will impact your application in the future is the difference between a good Jira administrator and a great one. If you’re a newly minted Administrator, an experienced JA looking for guidance on taming an overgrown Jira instance, or a determined perfectionist who’s trying to set things up right the first time – then this course is for you!

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Not a LinkedIn Learning member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial! Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription!

Coming Soon – Jira: Advanced Administration

My new Jira: Advanced Administration course is now available! Take the course on LinkedIn now.

Not a LinkedIn Learning member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial! Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription!

About the Course

Jira is the industry standard for tracking work, tasks, and strategic company initiatives.  The software is infinitely flexible and customizable, which is both a blessing and a curse.  The goal of the Jira administrator should be to configure application settings to support the needs of the organization and ensure the health of the application in the future.  This requires an intimate understanding of Jira’s capabilities, global options, and scheme configuration.

In this advanced Jira administration course, you’ll learn:

  • The most important configuration options like general settings and global permissions
  • How schemes work together to power Jira projects
  • How to create custom projects, issue types, workflows, screens, and custom fields
  • How to manage project-specific settings like components and versions
  • Working with groups and roles for easy user management
  • How to restrict access and share information with permission, issue security, and notification schemes
  • Ways to extend Jira with apps, connections, and integrations
  • Advanced features like importing data, creating issues from email, adding custom events, and automation
  • And more

“Knowing the best way to solve a problem and how it will impact your application in the future is the difference between a good administrator and a great one.”
– Rachel Wright

Podcast: Jira Clean up with Rachel Wright

“The way you should implement new things in Jira is to think about how you’ll report on those things. Always start with reporting needs and work backward.”

Join Rachel Wright and Manuel Pattyn from iDalko, a Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner, as we discuss Jira clean up. In this episode of the
Atlassian.FM podcast, we cover how to start a Jira clean up, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to overcome common challenges like too many admins, customizations, or competing ideas.

Listen in podcast format or read the written transcript on the iDalko website.

Clean Up Help
Need help cleaning up your Atlassian products? Complete the form below and we'll get right back to you.

New Course: Learning Jira (Server Edition)

How do you track your work? As organizations continue to adopt digital technology, more and more teams are leveraging Jira! By learning Jira you’ll be able to easily manage your own daily tasks and help your organization plan their strategic initiatives.

I’ve used Jira since 2011 and it’s the best application I’ve found to manage my work.  Join my LinkedIn Learning course to understand Jira fundamentals and how you can leverage this software to tame your never-ending “to do” list.

Not a LinkedIn Learning member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial! Access to my courses and others is included with your Premium subscription!

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Use Jira Cloud instead?

New Jira Basic Administration Course

For every Jira application there’s an administrator that needs to correctly configure settings, manage users, complete customization requests, and ensure the instance supports growth and change in their organization.

But how do you learn to do that?

Take my new course! Jira: Basic Administration is perfect for new Jira admins or anyone who could use a refresher on the top skills every administrator needs.

This course includes the top 5 things every Jira admin needs to know like: adding users, creating projects, editing workflows, and troubleshooting common permission and notification problems.

You’ll learn:

  • how to use Jira,
  • which application type you have,
  • the responsibilities of an administrator,
  • how to access the most used admin areas, and
  • how to set up a test environment so you can experiment without impacting production data.

Take my Jira admin course on LinkedIn. Access is included with your Premium subscription! Not a member yet? Start your 30 day LinkedIn Learning free trial

Rachel Wright’s Jira Courses on LinkedIn

Tips for Creating Good Jira Forms and Screens

Now that you know why good form design is important and how to ask good questions, here are some quick ways to improve Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.

Jira

Use these easy field tips in Jira.

1. Limit fields on the Create screen

When you create a project, Jira automatically creates screens and schemes for it. A “Kanban Default Issue Screen” includes 14 fields! By the time you’ve added additional custom fields, screens are often long and cumbersome. Just because info is needed, doesn’t mean it’s needed at the same time the issue is created. Group your fields into the following categories:

  • information needed immediately (Ex: Description and Requested date),
  • information needed later in the workflow (Ex: Estimate and Due date),
  • and information needed before an issue is completed (Ex: Time tracking and Root Cause).
Fields for a Simple Create Screen

Only show fields in the first category on the “Create” screen. Fewer fields make issues easier to create, especially for non-technical users.

Also only ask for information the creator can immediately provide. For example, if the creator isn’t the person who calculates the estimate or determines the release date, omit those fields. You can collect that information, during a scheduling process, later in the workflow.

If you have “Edit” and “View” screens, include all the relevant fields, so info is easy to update at any time. Usually these actions can share the same screen but sometimes they are different.  Example:  A field has a value but editing it is not desired.  In this case, the “View” screen shows the field but the “Edit” screen does not.  As a reminder, for Jira Cloud Next-gen projects, there’s just one screen per project or per issue type and no distinction between the create, edit, and view operations.  

2. Use tabs to group similar fields

If there are many fields, use the “tabs” feature to group them. In the screenshot, all user picker fields are together in the “People” tab and all date and version fields are in the “Internal” tab.

Two Custom Tabs on a Screen

3. Collect additional information during the workflow

Determine when in the workflow other fields should be completed. For example, fields like “Assignee”, “Due date”, and “Original Estimate” should be filled before an issue reaches the “In Progress” status. Use a workflow transition screen, and validators, to require entry. If you’re using ProForma, you can create separate forms to collect information at different times in the workflow.

4. Order fields strategically

List fields in the order the user is likely to supply the information. Place more important fields at the top.

Always place the “Priority” field before a “Requested” date field.  It may help set realistic expectations to ask for the importance before the date.

5. Order fields consistently

Use a consistent field order for all issue types and projects. Users expect and appreciate a standard.

6. Only create fields that are reported on

Don’t show unnecessary fields, collect information you won’t use, or create custom fields that aren’t queried. Instead, use the standard “Description” and “Comment” fields and train users what information to provide.

7. Utilize best practices and standard web form conventions

When creating screens, be aware of the web and application standard conventions that users expect. Here are some tips for effective and useful web forms.

  • Don’t ask too many questions
    Only ask for information you’ll use.  For example, if you plan to respond to issues via email, only ask for an email address (not an email address, a phone number, and a mailing address.)  If you already have the reporter’s email address on file, don’t ask them to type it. Short web forms are more likely to be completed.  Users dislike providing many ways for you to contact (aka spam, annoy) them.
  • Ask specific questions
    Use field descriptions to ask the user for specific information or to provide formatting instructions.  Asking a specific question gives you better information than a blank or “Enter your message here” description.  Examples: “What software do you need installed?” or “What is the expected result of the defect?” 
  • If a field has validation requirements, tell the user exactly what to enter
    Give clear and easy to understand directions.  Don’t wait for a user to enter data incorrectly before providing them with formatting instructions.  For example, tell the user to enter their phone number in the format: ###-###-#### rather than provide the vague error “Please enter a valid phone number.
  • Confirm successful submissions
    After a user clicks the submit button, there should be a confirmation that the message was received or an error message if there were any problems. Jira handles this functionality by default.
  • Post and adhere to your privacy policy
    Any time you collect user information, you should have an easily accessible privacy statement that addresses what you collect, how you use it, and under what circumstances, if any, you disclose it.  If completing a form means you’ll add their email address to your newsletter system, for example, that needs to be clear.  This is important for public instances and when you use Jira for customer support.
  • Consider your audience
    As with everything web related, create forms with the end user and their specific goals in mind.  You may need separate forms for existing customers, new prospects, or different situations.  Don’t try to serve all users and all conditions with the same form.

Jira Service Desk

With Jira Service Desk, you have a different audience to consider.  In Jira, the create form should be as short as possible.  But in Jira Service Desk, it’s important to collect all the important details up front, to avoid multiple rounds of follow-up questions.  This is especially important when working with external customers in different time zones.

Use the Jira tips above and these additional tips for JSD.

1. Use “Introduction text” to provide portal instructions

Enter a custom message to help users understand support options and share additional help resources. The intro message is especially important when there are multiple Service Desk portals. Intro message space is available in addition to the temporary announcement banner. (Both are pictured below.) Visit Project Settings > Portal settings to enter introduction text.

Sample Portal Introduction Message

2. Use the “Description” field to help users select the correct form

Add a short description for each request form, so users can determine the best selection for their request.

Sample Form Description

Always provide a selection for “all other requests”. In the screenshot above, there’s a generic form titled “Get IT help.”

3. Use the “Help and instructions” field to set request expectations

Enter custom instructions for each request form so users know what information is needed and how long it usually takes to receive a response. In the screenshot below, the user can expect help within 2 hours for this type of support request.

Sample Request Message

4. Customize field labels and add field descriptions

In JSD you can customize a Jira field’s label. For example, I often change the default “Summary” label to the more descriptive “Summarize the problem.”

Similarly, you can also customize field descriptions. Use the Jira field description for Jira users and tailor language in the Portal to that audience.

Custom Field Labels and Descriptions

5. Group forms by request type

In my former role as a web developer, I always considered a user’s capacity for processing information. Too many form choices can overwhelm a user. If you have more than 5 request forms, use the JSD “groups” feature to categorize the list.

Five Sample Form Categories

6. Use unique form icons

Each request form has an icon. Make each unique and choose icons that visually communicate what each request form is for. If you can’t find the right icon, you can make your own. Atlassian recommends a 20px grid with 24px padding. Read more

Finally, and most importantly, make it easy, intuitive, and painless to complete Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.  The process should be simple for all users.

OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:

Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms

When I became a Jira administrator, the most confusing part of project administration was how screens, screen schemes, and issue type screen schemes worked together. Huh? All I wanted to do was to change a few fields around and instead, I found myself lost in a confusing combination of settings that didn’t make any sense to me. Shouldn’t it be easier? Once I understood the relationship however, I saw how powerful these settings are when they work together. Let’s start out with some simple definitions.

Screens

Screens define which fields are present and their display order. Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects have four types of screens. They are:

  1. Create: A screen for creating a new issue
    • This screen collects the initial information from the Reporter. It often contains just a few of the most important and required fields.
  2. Edit: A screen for editing an existing issue
    • This screen contains all the fields a user is able to complete or update.
  3. View: A screen for viewing an issue’s details
    • This screen contains all the fields a user is able to view.
    • Note: Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects only display fields that have data. For example, if the “Due Date” field is empty, you won’t see it on an issue’s view screen.
  4. Transition: A screen that is displayed during a workflow transition
    • This screen is often used to collect or update data at different points in an issue’s lifecycle. For example, the “Resolution” field value is collected before an issue reaches its final workflow status.
    • Tip: Distinguish your transition screens from other screens by naming them with a “(T)”. Example screen name: Assignment (T). See screenshot.
Image: A transition screen’s name is signified with “(T)”

You can have one screen, or one set of screens, for all issues in your project. Or you can have different screens for each issue type. We’ll talk more about that in the “Issue Type Screen Scheme” section below.

Jira Cloud “Next-gen” projects work differently however. There’s just one screen per project or per issue type and no distinction between the create, edit, and view operations. “Next-gen” projects treat empty fields differently as well. An empty field displays with the word “None” below it, as pictured.

Image: The “Start Date” field is empty, but displayed in a Jira Cloud “Next-gen” project

Fields and Ordering

In all versions of Jira, screens display both standard and custom fields.
Some fields can be ordered as desired by rearranging them on the admin view of the screen.  Other fields are automatically placed and grouped together. For example, all user-picker fields (“Assignee”, “Reporter”, etc) appear together on the right side of an issue’s screen. All date fields (“Due Date”, “Created Date”, “Updated Date”) also appear together on the right.

Screen Schemes

Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects have Screen Schemes.
Remember the “create”, “edit”, and “view” operations above? This scheme associates one or more screens with an operation.

In this simple example, there’s one screen for each operation.

Image: The “Epic Screen Scheme” uses the screen called “Epic: Create, Edit and View” for all operations

In this more complex example, there is one screen for the “create” operation and another screen for the “edit” and “view” operations.

Image: The “Bug Screen Scheme” used the “Bug: Create” screen for the create operation and the “Bug: Edit and View” screen for the other operations.

A Screen Scheme can have as little as one screen shared by all operations or as many as three screens, with one screen for each operation.

Why Multiple Screens?

I recommend starting with one screen shared by the “create”, “edit”, and “view” operations in your project. If that screen becomes cluttered with too many fields, or if information needs to be collected during different stages of the workflow, then consider using multiple screens.

Issue Type Screen Schemes

Jira Server and Jira Cloud “classic” projects also have one final setting called an Issue Type Screen Scheme. This scheme associates screens with different issue types. Just like you can have different screens for different operations, you can have one set of screens for your Bugs, one set for your Stories, and another set for your Tasks.

This Issue Type Screen Scheme has two Screen Schemes. The Bug issue type uses the “Bug Screen Scheme” which has two screens. The Epic issue type uses the “Epic Screen Scheme” which has one screen.

Image: The Bug issue type has three bug-specific screens. The Epic issue type has only one epic-specific screen.

Tying it Together

Screens, Screen Schemes, and Issue Type Screen Schemes work together to power your project. Atlassian explains this relationship in this diagram.

It look me a long time to understand these concepts. I recommend you re-read this article and experiment in your own Jira test environment, until the relationship between these settings is clear.

Jira Service Desk Request Forms

If you have Jira Service Desk, there’s another type of “screen” to be aware of. When Service Desk Agents login to Jira, they see the typical Jira screens described above. When Service Desk Customers login to the Customer Portal however, they see request forms.

Request forms provide a simpler and streamlined issue view, which is great for less technical audiences. Customers need no Jira knowledge to use the portal to submit their request.

In the example below, the left image shows a default Jira create screen, which contains 21 fields. The right image shows a default Jira Service Desk change request form, which contains only 10 fields. Which one looks easier to complete?

Image: A Jira change request create screen (left) and a Jira Service Desk change request form (right)

Best Practices

Make your screens and schemes as easy, efficient, and reusable as possible. Here are some recommendations:

As With all Forms

  • Don’t collect data you won’t query on or actually use
  • List fields in the order a user would likely supply the information
  • Order fields consistently between issues types in a project and between projects. Users expect and appreciate a standard.
    • Example: The “Summary” field is always first, the “Description” field is always second, etc.

For Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” Projects

  • Use a single screen for all operations (“create”, “edit”, “view”) until there’s a real need for additional screens.
    • Consider additional screens when there are too many fields or if information needs to be collected during different stages of the workflow.
  • On the “create” screen:
    • Only include the most important and required fields. Too many fields overwhelm users. Too many fields also impacts loading and performance.
    • Only include fields relevant to the Reporter. For example, if a business team member is reporting a Bug, they can’t provide an effort estimate and won’t know which code version is impacted. Don’t show the “Story Points”, “Original Estimate” or “Affects Version” fields. Instead, add these fields to your “edit” and “view” screens. You can also prompt a development team member for that information, later in the workflow, using a “transition” screen.
  • Create a single screen and a single screen scheme, for all issue types, until more are needed.
    • Example: You want the custom fields “Steps to Reproduce” and “Expected Result” on a Bug’s “create” screen, but not on a Story’s “create” screen.
    • Example: Create one standard for all development projects and another standard for support projects, not one custom configuration per Jira project.
  • Create generic screens and schemes so they can be shared between projects.

Other articles in this series:

Evolution of Jira Design

A better navigation for Jira Cloud is coming soon! While we wait I thought it would be fun to dig up some old screenshots and take an unofficial and outsiders look at how the Jira interface has changed over the years.

When Jira was first released in 2002, it was purely for software development.  But these days, all kinds of teams, like Legal, Marketing, HR, and IT, use Jira to track their work and their team’s “to do” list.  Jira is useful for any industry and it’s not just for software development anymore!

The modern Jira experience is much different than what launched in 2002. Jira has evolved into different application types and different deployment methods. You can choose between Jira Core for business teams, Jira Software for development teams, and Jira Service Desk for support teams. You can also choose Jira Cloud (Atlassian hosted), Jira Server (hosted on-premises, in a data center with your other internal applications, or in a Cloud server environment like Amazon AWS), or Jira Data Center (also self-hosted but built for mission critical environments.)

It’s no surprise that the application’s design, look, and navigation has changed drastically over the years. Here are a few examples of the visual evolution.

In the Beginning

In 2002, Jira looked just like all the other web applications did at the time. As a web developer, I remember web application design closely mirrored desktop application design. It felt like developers were porting their applications to “web format” and wanting them to behave the same way as the PC versions did. User interface standards were just emerging. Websites were mostly grid based and layouts were in box or table format. In the Jira 2002 screenshot example you can see the familiar “logo in the top left header” standard that we all still expect today.

Jira circa 2002. Source: Happy Birthday to the Atlassian Community

In 2007 the logo and header changed slightly but the overall layout remained the same. The issue screen doesn’t yet have the right sidebar to display people and date fields. This design reminds me of what you see today when you export Jira filter results for printing.

Jira circa 2007. Source: Atlassian Marketplace

In 2009 Atlassian acquired GreenHopper which added release planning, burn down charts, and many of the agile features we use today. I still remember installing GreenHopper as an app and when “Agile” was a link in the top nav.

Into the Cloud

In 2011, Atlassian created a cloud-based version of Jira. It looked and functioned just like the self-hosted version. It was originally named “JIRA OnDemand” and the on-prem version was called “JIRA Download.” The names were re-branded in 2014.

Also in 2011, the Jira admin interface received a new project-centric design. I’m very thankful for the quick nav and keyboard shortcuts. I use the “gg” shortcut daily to move around the admin area.

Originally named RapidBoards, Scrum Boards graduated from the labs sandbox and became a standard feature in 2012.

Boards circa 2012. Source: Jira Server 5.10 release notes

Just two years later, the board design looked more polished with assignee avatars, different placement for priority icons and estimates, and improved spacing.

Boards circa 2014. Source: Form nimble agile teams

In 2012, the Atlassian Design Guidelines (ADG) were published to unify the customer experience across products. Hooray for consistency and standards! This meant the typography, spacing, and layout in Jira would be similar in Confluence. Jira 6, released in 2013, was the first “ADG compliant” version.

In 2013, the workflow designer was rebuilt in HTML 5. I remember when HTML 5 was the latest and greatest thing in web development! We all hoped it would replace Adobe Flash. Flash support officially ends in Dec 2020, but I haven’t seen a Flash-based website in years.

Back in 2013, all the workflow statuses were one color. We didn’t see different status categories, colors, or lozenges until version 6.2 in 2015. Different status colors helped end users understand whether they were in the beginning, middle, or end of an issue’s life cycle.

One Color Workflow Statuses
Multi-Color Workflow Statuses

Custom status icons were also eliminated in 2015. Anyone remember those? I don’t think anyone misses them.

Workflow Status Icons

New Designs for new Application Types

In 2015, Atlassian split Jira into two application types: Jira Core and Jira Software. Core featured a simplified interface aimed at business teams. Software retained development-specific features like versions, sprints, and dev tool integration. In the Jira Core screenshot below there are few links in the left nav.

Jira Core circa 2015. Source: Say hello to Jira Core

As the applications diverged, sometimes new features were built in one type but not in the other. For example, Jira Cloud got a new visual roadmap feature and Jira Data Center got archive abilities. Design differences emerged and even some terminology changed. Cloud has a global permission called “Share dashboards and filters” but the same feature in Server is named “Create Shared Objects.” All these small differences are certainly challenging for me. It’s harder to use both application types at the same time and to keep training materials up to date. Even Atlassian has to maintain separate sets of documentation.

In 2016, the atlassian.design domain was registered to house their design principle documentation and brand information. Their style guide is a fabulous example for other organizations to follow. I especially like how easy their logos are to download and the “don’t do this” logo crime samples.

Also this year mobile Jira apps for IOs and Android were launched with their own platform-specific features and design.

Jira Android App. Source: Jira Software for Android has landed
New Jira logo

In 2017, Atlassian re-branded their entire corporate identity introducing a new logo, individual product logos, and renaming “JIRA” to “Jira”. Branding modifications are inevitable as companies grow and change. This is the fifth Atlassian logo change in 15 years. There’s a great graphic showing the logo evolution here. The new logo symbols feel multi-dimensional, fresh, and modern. It will be a long time before I can update every instance of “JIRA” to “Jira” in my book and on my website though!

Jira Cloud UI Overhaul

Also in 2017, Atlassian departed from their previous interface strategy. They announced “Jira Cloud will get an updated look and feel, including a collapsible sidebar navigation and enhanced search, to help your teams get things done faster.” The new nav was completely different from the top horizontal navigation in Jira Server and in previous Cloud versions.

I had trouble finding my way around and noticed more clicks were needed to get to some areas. The large left side bar commanded a lot of visual space. It was collapsible but you’d need to expand it again to access certain links. Sometimes the navigation loaded after the page contents loaded. Most annoyingly, the nav’s vertical scroll bar made it hard to print or screenshot pages. This navigation reminded me of designing with HTML frames in early 2000.

Source: Your teams are getting better navigation in Jira Cloud

Jira Cloud “Before”
Jira Cloud “After”
Bento Box Concept

In 2018, Atlassian took inspiration from the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese bento box to redesign the Jira Cloud issue view. This design divided and grouped key actions and information, much like how rice, meat, and vegetables are separated in individual portions.

Also In Jira Cloud:

Jira Cloud Vertical Workflow

Workflow transitions were simplified. They ware displayed vertically and at the top of the right sidebar.

The separate “view” and “edit” screens were collapsed into a single screen. As such, there’s no “Edit” button and and all fields received inline edit capability.

New search capabilities were added. A keyword search very quickly returned recent issues, boards, projects, and filters. I found myself wishing I could enter simple queries in this search bar.

New Search Function

Clicking an issue from a board opened it in an overlay. When you closed the issue, your board was still there in the background.

Issues Open in an Overlay

Joining the Next Generation

In 2018 Atlassian introduced the concept of next-gen projects for Jira Cloud. This special project type is scheme-less. Project settings aren’t shared and settings don’t impact other projects. The simple configuration interface lets end users quickly create new projects on their own. Read my thoughts on next-gen projects here. Another Cloud feature, Agility boards were also introduced.

The Next-gen interface for adding custom fields and organizing them on screens is simple and intuitive. (Left screenshot below.) But I find the issue screen itself unbalanced. (Right screenshot below.) Most of the fields are stacked on the right side. When there are a lot of fields, they are collapsed and you have to click around to find them. Without a long description, attachment, or comment list, there’s a lot of unused white space on the left.


Jira Cloud Next-gen Project Configuration

Jira Cloud Next-gen Issue
New Workflow Status Colors

Also in 2018, Atlassian split their design guidelines, creating one version for Cloud and one version for Server. The Atlassian Design Guidelines version 3 was published and workflow statuses received new colors.

2020 and Beyond

The new Jira Cloud horizontal navigation launches in March 2020! I’m looking forward to returning to Jira’s navigation roots and what I’m used to. As another user put it “What’s old is “new” again?” Yes, it appears so and I’m very happy about it. Since I use both Cloud and Server, I’m also glad that the nav will be similar again.

Change is the only thing that’s certain. We must all learn to work with it and retrain ourselves and our end users when necessary. I haven’t loved absolutely every change Atlassian has made, but every change is an opportunity (either for me or for them) to learn something new. I’m looking forward to the changes in 2020 and beyond.

While you’re waiting for the new Cloud nav to arrive in your instance, here are some early screenshots of the latest look and feel.

Update:The experience was fully delivered to all new and existing applications in June 2020.  As of September 2020, the old navigation is no longer available for users to switch back to.

Like Atlassian history? Also read: Summit Through the Years and Jira Cloud Navigation Comparison

Things to Think about When Converting Forms to Jira

The first time I converted a paper form to an online form, I made my online form a perfect replica of its predecessor. I figured the team I was building the form for would appreciate my being faithful to their original and I wanted them to feel reassured that the transition to digital did not mean they had to abandon their processes.

Later I learned that there are several reasons you shouldn’t do that:

  • The form may not have been well designed in the first place.
  • Processes may have changed since the form was last updated.
  • Online forms allow us to use functionality that isn’t available for paper or PDF forms. We can make forms that are better for both the team that owns the form, and their customers/users.

ProForma for Jira

Where to Start When Converting to Jira Forms/Screens

Instead of copying, gather the stakeholders and start from a blank slate. There are several things you should consider before creating your form:

  • Define the user
    Who is the customer/user who will be filling out the form? What are they trying to achieve? Is there information that you’ll be asking for that the customer may not know how to find? Or information that they may not want to provide? Are there parts of the current form that customers frequently get wrong? What do you know about your users language level (Are you creating the form in their native language? Are you using technical terms or jargon they may not be familiar with?) 
  • Decide what information you need to collect
    List the data points that need to be collected. Be willing to challenge the status quo. Since one of the principles of well-designed forms is minimalism, put every element (section, question, instruction) on trial for its life. If no one can justify why the data is needed, then ditch the question. 
  • Note which data points need to be collected from which users
    There’s a good chance that you don’t need to ask every user every question. Note which questions are associated with certain scenarios. You’ll use this information later to make some questions conditional, thereby making the form shorter and easier for users.
  • Decide when and where to place instructions
    Large blocks of text are annoying and often ignored by users. Move as much instruction as possible to the field level.
  • Identify validation and formatting needs
    Get clarity on what’s required and what’s optional. Find out if there are any business rules (choice options, spending limits, etc.) that should be built into the form. Also, find out if there are preferred formats for text fields. Consider whether any of the fields should have a default value.
  • Isolate the data points that will be queried/reported on
    While you’re still with the form’s stakeholders, find out which of the information points identified in step 2 will be used in queries and reports. Many data points are collected in order to provide a service, but are never queried. Sorting your data points into to camps will help you select the right field types and keep from creating unnecessary Jira custom fields.
  • Locate the form in the business process
    Where does the form fit in the workflow? Are there circumstance where the form should be automatically added to the issue? What should happen once the form is submitted? Is the form part of a compliance strategy?

Create Your Form/Screen in Jira

Now you’re ready to create you screen/form. Remember to:

  • Follow the rules of layout and flow to create a user-friendly form.
  • Avoid creating new Jira custom fields unless absolutely necessary.
    Be judicious about creating new Jira custom fields. An over-abundance of custom fields makes your Jira configuration complex and will eventually degrade Jira performance.  A new custom fields should not be created unless it:
    • Can be used by multiple projects
    • Will be queried and reported on
    • Does not duplicate Jira functionality or an existing custom field

Try to use other options such as a ProForma field, a field configuration, or a field context.

  • Make the most of the functionality offered by online forms.

By engaging in a careful discovery process and employing the rules of good form design, you can help teams maximize usability and efficiency as they bring their processes into Jira.

Other articles in this series: